THE GOVERNMENT will examine the feasibility of blocking malicious content on WhatsApp and Facebook in militancy-hit areas such as Jammu and Kashmir after it emerged that militants are using the facility to be in constant touch with their handlers across the border, according to officials.
The issue was flagged during a meeting held here on Monday, chaired by Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, where the recent arrests in connection with the terror attack at Nagrota Army camp in 2016 were highlighted.
The militants arrested following the attack — from the Jaish-e-Mohammed — have told Jammu and Kashmir Police that they took directions from across the border through WhatsApp calls, it was pointed out.
Seven Army personnel were killed in the attack.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) recently took custody of three people who had been arrested by the state police for alleged involvement in helping the terrorists, including ferrying them from the border and guiding them to the Army camp.
Top officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), and from security agencies and J&K Police attended the meeting. According to the ministry, the meeting was convened to discuss removal of malicious content from various social networking sites posted by “keypad jihadis who spew venom” on the internet.
The use of internet to make calls has increased problems for the security agencies, as they have been unable to crack it due to end-to-end encryption by the service provider, officials said. The meeting looked at experiences of of some countries, including those in the Gulf, where WhatsApp voice or video calling is not allowed.
According to a statement issued later, the meeting discussed effective measures to be taken by law enforcement agencies to tackle the security challenges posed by terrorists, militants and individuals propagating child pornography using social media platforms.
The meeting also discussed steps to enhance coordination among law enforcement agencies, MeitY and DoT to block and remove malicious content under Sections 69 (power to issue directions for interception or monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource) and 79 (limited access to a communication system over which information made available by third parties is transmitted or temporarily stored or hosted) of IT Act.